For the second time in a row, the Passover and Easter overlap this year: Erev Pesach (the first night of the Jewish holiday) falls on the evening of Good Friday. And (western) Christian Easter falls on the second day of the Passover, which lasts eight days.
(But also keep in mind that many of our fellow Houstonians — our Greek, Russian, Egyptian, and Syrian neighbors among them — will be celebrating Orthodox Easter on Sunday, April 28, the day after the Passover ends.)
Whatever holiday your family is celebrating this year, you'll be taking part in a tradition that stretches back beyond monotheism: The Passover and Easter both have their origins in pagan rituals associated with the arrival of the spring, the season of renewal and rebirth.
In the wine trade, spring is also linked to the release of pinko wine, often from the previous year's harvest. That's because the pale red- and salmon-colored wines are commonly the first wines ready to drink from any given vintage.
Rosé, rosato, or rosado wines were once known as "blush" wines to our parents. The now notorious "white Zinfandel" was often more of a wine cooler than a wine. In their day, small amounts of red wine and even food coloring were added to white wine along with sugar to create the feel-good, get-it-on wines of the 1970s and 80s.
But in our generation, the pink wines that arrive this time of year are made from "bleeding" red wines before they have achieved their full color (the so-called saignée method) or by employing short maceration times for red grape must and the berries' skins (all wine gets its color from the skins).
As I made the rounds of my favorite Houston wine retailers earlier this month, I found a wide range of great rosés for the holiday, some of them just released. Not only is rosé seasonal right now but it can also perform as a versatile and nimble pairing with the rich foods of the holidays. Rosé also tends to be lower in alcohol than red, making it an ideal daytime-brunch wine. And it can add lovely color to your holiday table setting.
The following are some of the best buys I found, including some red wines to pair with your Paschal Lamb — Jewish, Christian, or pagan.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Wherever you shop for wine, MAKE SURE that you are not buying rosé (or white, for that matter) from an older, stale vintage. Look for wines from the 2018 and 2017 harvests. There are a few and very rare exceptions to this rule (like Bandol, for example). But in general, these wines should be young and fresh, just like the season.
Matthiasson 2018 Rosé (under $25)
Made from a field blend of mostly Rhône grape varieties, this wine has wonderfully restrained alcohol.
Bedrock 2018 Ode to Lulu Rosé (around $20)
This delicious entry from über-hipster Sonoma Bedrock is inspired by southern French rosé.
Cirelli 2017 Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Rosato (around $20)
My wife and I drink this wine all year round, at least when we can find it in the market.
Ampelos 2017 Rosé of Sryah (around $20)
The freshness of this gorgeous wine is rivaled only by its robust flavor. It's another one of our family favorites.
Here are some red picks.
Masciarelli 2016 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (under $15)
This iconic wine from Italy is arguably the best value red in our market right now.
Volker Eisele 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (around $50)
If you're looking for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, this wholesome, old-world-style wine represents extreme value for the quality.
Burgundy and Beaujolais at Houston Wine Merchant
I was blown away by how much great under-$40 red Burgundy and Beaujolais I found at the Houston Wine Merchant.
Spanish at Vinology
The buyers at Vinology have been focused on Spain in recent months. There's arguably no country that can deliver so much value for iconic, classic-style reds, rosés, and whites.
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Chianti at Spec's
The mothership Spec's on Smith St. has a rich selection of under-$20 Chianti right now. Look for Castello di Albola, Collazzi, and Coltibuono among others.
Natural at Light Years
At Light Years, Houston's newest wine bar and shop, the focus is on small-scale, minimalist-intervention entries. The wines can be funky and unpredictable but they always make for great conversation and quaffing.